Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - What A Year!!!

As the New Year approaches, I thought it would be a good time to take a moment to reflect upon what’s gone on over the past 12 months. I think one of the most challenging experiences I had this year was getting used to the responsibilities and unexpected costs associated with home ownership. I never thought that I could single-handedly keep the pockets of my local plumbers, electricians, and drain cleaner professionals lined with my money all throughout the year, but that’s been a big part of my year. I thought the tax benefit I would get from owning would be great and it was and still is, but it certainly got used up right away once this needed fixing and that needed replacement. Oy vay. But I love my place and now coming on my 2nd year anniversary of owning my condo, I still wouldn’t trade it. It’s all mine, I’m so proud of it and I really feel like I’ve made myself a cute little home. I also celebrated my 10th year at my company and I couldn’t believe that I was old enough to have done anything for 10 years in a row! My career in cultural exchange has been challenging, fulfilling, and always new and different. I still love it and all the crazy folks I’m blessed to work with every day. I said goodbye to one of my dear colleagues this year when she passed away from cancer. It was incredibly sad, but also reminded me of how special my relationships are and how much I truly value those around me. What my friend Betty taught me about compassion and setting the highest personal and professional standards will remain with me for the rest of my life. I also learned a few lessons from another colleague who decided to move on to a new opportunity and while my heart has broken because I cherished each day we worked together, I know that our friendship will last forever and a few thousand miles won’t break our bond! I’ve traveled across the country and around the globe again this year with my friends and colleagues and as exhausting as it can sometimes be, I’m grateful for each and every opportunity. I’ve seen my amazing friends become mothers and I couldn’t be more proud of each of them as they have truly embraced their maternal instincts and become the best mommies those kids could ever ask for. I got to meet my little nephew Caden in September and I have fallen in love, once again, with a beautiful child that my sister and brother-in-law brought into this world. I didn’t think I could love a child as much as my niece Maddie, but he has stolen my heart with his little crooked smile and an addiction to cuddling I am pleased to indulge in endlessly. My family means the world to me and 2009 continued to show me that I have the very best family in the world. So, what’s in store for 2010? I don’t know, but if 2009 has taught me anything, it’s that I’m ready for whatever is coming my way! I wish you all the best in 2010 and may you be just as blessed as I have felt.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bad Things Come In Threes So I'm All Set, Right?

So this holiday season was filled with family, friends, and me falling down. I started things off last week by accidentally scratching my nose so as to leave myself with a nice gash. I kind of forgot about it but as I greeted all of my relatives over the past few days they've all paused and asked me what the hell I did to myself. Then on Christmas Eve I was helping to wash some dishes and a wine glass broke in my hand and cut me pretty badly. Of course my drunk uncle was the one who got the glass out with the tweezers (but not really because I actually got it out myelf the next day when my finger still hurt). I figured I was in the clear but then last night at another family get together I walked full speed into a suitcase and broke my little toe. Now, there's really nothing you can do, just ice it and deal with it. I figure that I'm out of the woods now and that since bad things happen in 3s there's nothing left for me to do. Although these are probably famous last words and I'll be blogging about some other thing I've twisted, broken or otherwise mangled in the coming days. Well, happy holidays my friends! If you see me on the street limping along sometime soon, just don't add insult to injury by driving in a puddle and splashing me because I don't think I can take anymore!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

I'm lucky enough to be able to take two weeks of vacation this holiday season. For those of you who know me well, you know this is is rather rare as I can't remember a time I was out of work for 2 straight weeks aside from when I had surgery a few years ago. Needless to say, I've definitely figured out how to fill my time and am enjoying every moment of it. Let me be clear, however, that there are a few more moments than I had anticipated. This is because of the fact that I have an internal alarm which has required me to be awake at 7:30am every morning of my vacation so far. Oh, how I long for the almost hibernation I used to be able to have as a teen where I could sleep all day and still crave more. I remember in college that if I had 20 minutes between classes I would try to figure out a way to get a nap in there. But not now. Now, my body behaves like a 75 year old where I am up early and I could easily give in to the need to go to sleep at 9:00pm on most nights. What the hell has happened to me? I'm still young, in my 30s, and there's no reason for me to be up with the roosters! Honestly, what do I need to get done during vacation at this time of the morning that couldn't wait until at least 10? This is just a cruel trick from mother nature and I'd like to know who I can write a complaint letter to about this. Oh wait, I guess I just wrote one to all of you.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Worst Job

Okay, so today I'm getting an MRI on my knee to see what's really going on so we can fix it already. Well, as part of the prep for the procedure I received a phone call from the MRI center asking me just a few questions... In a matter of fact tone, the delightfully unchipper person on the other line proceeded to ask me the following:

Do you have diabetes?
Do you have heart disease?
Do you have a metal plate in your head?
Do you have any screws, pins, or other metal in your body?
Are you on dialysis?
Do you have shrapnel in your eyeballs?
Do you have a personal history of cancer?
Do you have a blood disease?
Do you have any artificial limbs?

Then I started to lose focus as she continued down the line of incredibly depressing questions and I could have sworn I heard her say:

Have you lost the will to live?
Do you know the meaning of life?
Do you have "daddy" issues?
Have you ever exhibited violent tendencies?

Turns out I passed whatever test I needed to in order to have the pleasure of sitting inside a machine for 20 minutes and getting pictures taken of my knee. They asked more questions in preparation for my MRI than I was asked in order to get my license, passport, mortgage, and acceptance to college!

The thing is that you can't really make the questions they have to ask sound any better than they are and if I couldn't put my personality into my work then it would be the worst job in the world for me to be the MRI prep lady! Now, I'll just have to remember to take my hearing aids out before we begin so they don't go flying across the room when they put the magnet on. Wish me luck, this visit alone ought to provide some material for a future blog.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Anxiety

So, every year this happens to me without fail. As we get closer and closer to Christmas I start to dream about the gifts I need to get for people and, inevitably, it turns into a nightmare where I imagine myself with my family opening presents only to realize that I forgot one person. Now, in my dream the forgotten gift-getter is sitting quietly in the corner looking sad as can be as they try to process the fact that I have dissed them. It's actually never happened to me and I pray that it never will, but every single year around this time, I end up having this same horrific dream many times before Christmas day. I think I need to start buying some back-up gifts, just in case. Think of it as a Christmas first-aid kit for those gift emergency situations! How about you, have you ever forgotten anyone? Or better yet, have you ever received a gift from someone unexpectedly and then realized you didn't get anything for them? Oh the holidays, it's my favorite time of the year but, oy vay, I can't handle all the anxiety!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One woman's communication challenge is another woman's blog topic

Okay, so I'm still cracking up thinking about a conversation I had with a trainer at my gym this morning. So, she was filling in for my regular trainer and she was trying to bond with me with some small talk. She should NEVER try to do this again. So, here's attempt number one of her trying to bond with me:

Her: So, I haven't seen you around here, have you recently started coming here?
Me: No, I've been coming since the end of May.
Her: Oh, I didn't realize that because I only recently saw you here.
Me: Yeah, I'm here pretty regularly and have been for about 6 months.
Her: Okay.
Me: Incidentally, didn't YOU just start here about a month ago?
Her: Yes.
Me: So, essentially, you probably haven't seen anyone at this gym for very long right?
Her: Yes.

So, you would think that this would have caused her to realize that the small talk wasn't going well and we should just stick to the workout, but then she tried again and SPOILER ALERT, she failed.

Her: So, what are your goals with your program?
Me: Well, I'm looking to continue to lose weight and to get in better shape.
Her: So, nothing really in particular.
Me: I would say that the losing weight and the getting in shape is pretty much what I'm looking for.
Her: So, no real goals to speak of.
Me: Umm, well, I think my goals are to LOSE WEIGHT and to GET IN SHAPE. So, those two SPECIFIC things are my real, particular goals that I would say I have.

At that point it had gone from the ridiculous to the sublime and I realized that while the conversation was going nowhere, she had given me the greatest gift of all: my next blog entry. So, thank you Lina and Merry Christmas to you too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Revenge Of The Christmas Cookie

Oh, those damned Christmas cookies. I swore I would be good, I promised to stay away and then at my company cookie swap today, I ate with abandon and forgot all of my promises. And now I’m paying the price. I’m sitting here with a good pound of refined sugar sitting like a brick in my tummy. I’m also full of regret. Did I NEED that last frosted sugar cookie? Did I just HAVE to eat that little square of fudge? Was it COMPLETELY necessary to try all three chocolate chip cookies being offered? And now here’s the worst part, after all of that sugar I am craving something salty like you wouldn’t even believe. I swear, if someone walked by with a cheeseburger, I would literally tackle them and if they got hurt, so be it. Oh the joys of the holiday season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stretching The Truth

Okay, so picture it. It's Thursday morning and I'm working with my trainer and we just finished a workout. I'm exhausted and can't believe I made it through this experience alive. I long for the brief moments I can spend on the floor stretching and recovering because at least I'm not doing hideous dumbbell reps or push ups or sit ups with a medicine ball. Actually, one of the best things about the stretching part of my sessions is that my trainer helps me and I get a much better stretch than I could on my own. However, the benefits go right out the window when I come to a stunning realization while he lifts my leg up and pushes it forward for a hamstring stretch. My pant leg starts to drop and I realize that I haven't shaved my legs for a few days and as he moves forward, as if in slow motion, my leg grazes his cheek. I swear, I could have drawn blood with those sandpaper legs. So, I wanted to die a little bit because neither one of us said anything, but we both knew the horrible truth. You better believe that my next session will feature me with the smoothest legs you've ever seen! Now, in case any of you are jumping to any conclusions, there could be nothing even close to attraction between myself and this trainer. In fact, that idea would be more horrific than the scene I just described. The fact is that this would have been embarrassing no matter who was playing the role of my trainer. Just another day in the life of yours truly.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Why Must I Talk In The Elevator?

There’s nothing like an awkward silence to just push me over the edge. I’ve realized that I feel compelled to fill those empty moments with some nonsense rolling around in my head which may end up being worse than if I had kept everything quiet and awkward. The elevator is my worst enemy in this respect because that’s a daily opportunity for me to say something stupid and wish I had kept my trap shut. My most frequent offense is standing there and then saying something brilliant like “don’t you think it’s funny how people are always so quiet in elevators?” Good job, way to make everyone feel stupid for not keeping the energy alive and kicking for the 2 minute commute to their floor. My greatest hits continue with commentary about traffic, weather, Christmas shopping, or making what I did that weekend sounds SOOOO fascinating. Sometimes people just want to be quiet and I should just respect that and keep to myself. But I can’t help it, it’s like I have elevator-induced Turret’s Syndrome. Is there any hope for me?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My First and Perhaps Last Black Friday

I woke up with a startle on Friday morning at 3:30am. My sister had the unpleasant duty to wake me up and, without my hearing aids in, I almost smacked her not knowing who the hell was trying to get me up at this ungodly hour. Then I realize that I chose this. So we hopped in the car and were on our way with hot coffee in our hands and anxious anticipation in our minds. How many people would be there? Would the rain drive them away? Would the deals really be worth it? Could we possibly get hurt by a stampede? While the parking lot of Kohl's and Target didn't seem to be overly crowded, we quickly saw the lines out the door waiting for the grand opening and our jaws dropped. People were lined up around the building and then some! Some people put real clothes on, some stayed in their pajamas, some appeared to have not slept all night, others looked fresh as a daisy. And then there was "that guy". He was over 6'5" and I guess when the tag says one size fits all, they didn't exclude that the Snuggie he was wearing would be the perfect fit. Now, he didn't wear it as seen on tv, he wore it more like a cape a la The Lord Of The Rings. We are rookies, but we knew to stay away from Snuggie-man. The doors opened to Kohls and we made our way inside. We didn't know what we wanted, but we just knew we wanted it to be cheap. Turns out they did have some great deals but I'm not so sure the stuff I got would not have been available all day and at a time ending in "pm". But I digress. So, with parcels in hand we stood in the longest line I've ever been in. We met some interesting folks and I did some "man on the street" style interviews of them to get the best tricks of the trade. One woman had been doing this for 7 years and when she finished telling us all about how to do it right, she remembered something else she wanted and so she dumped all her stuff on her 90 year old grandmother also in line and sprinted off. She was back in a flash and Nanna didn't seem to mind, but we were worried about her for a minute. So, my grand total at Kohl's? $40. But I did save $40 on the stuff I bought so I figured I was a winner. Then we went off to Target which seemed promising given the seemingly hundreds of available cashiers. However, once we perused the store and picked up our goodies, that line was worst than them all and moved painfully slow. Now, Target is where people were getting nasty. Having a cart was ideal for waiting in line, but not so good in navigating the electronics section which was where the magic was happening. People were lined up for the 5 available alarm clocks at rock bottom prices and if you stepped in the wrong spot and assumed you had the rights to one of them, they were gonna kick your ass to Tallahassee. So, what did I get at Target? Well, quite a few things actually but none of them were on sale and none of them would be unavailable on a different day and different time. So now it was 6:30am and we couldn't take anymore. We refueled and headed home. Then we decided that since BJs was open at 7am, let's head over there. Okay, so here I did find some bargains (but again not doorbusters just general bargains going on all weekend) I spent more money here than anywhere (Kristin and Helen can stop nodding their heads in disapproval now) but I loved what I got! We were out of there and in the car again and I turned to my sister and said, okay, what shall we have for lunch? She kindly informed me that it was a bit early for lunch and as I looked at the clock I realized that while I had been up and shopping for the past 6 hours, it was only 9:30am and the next thing on my shopping list was a nice long nap!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stuffed Turkey

Today is a day where we spend time with loved ones and give thanks. But let's be honest, aren't we really in this for the food? Could there be nothing better than every comfort food you could possibly crave being put out on the same table and you have license to just eat anything you want? From the stuffing to the pumpkin pie, it's a carb-loaded sugar fest of epic proportions. But this year I will try to show some restraint. I will sample a little bit of everything, but I can't go hog wild as I may have in years past. I've been working too hard with my workouts and training to lose it all over some sausage stuffing. In fact, this week I had my most recent fit assessment and I'm happy to say that I lost another 13 lbs since my last test and a bunch of inches. In fact, I lost about a foot of inches from my neck, shoulders, chest, arms, waist, hips, and thighs. That's crazy! How can a person lose all those inches and not instantly be skinny? It just means that i have so much further to go, but I'm committed so I'll do it damnit! So, my posting today is more of a public declaration that the only thing that I hope to be stuffed this year is the turkey!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Wheels On The Truck Go Round And Round

So, I was trying to get a bunch of stuff done during my day off yesterday and I am so glad I did because it turned out that there was more than I had expected to get done in store for me. I began with a "quick" oil change which turned into a not-so-quick procedure as they convinced me, once again, that I needed to have a transmission fluid flush service. I swear, these companies are fear-driven sales models because if they tell me that I need to do it and that if I don't I'll face the "consequences", I sign right up. Okay, so I shake that off and continue on to getting an inspection sticker. My friend Helen is always nervous I'm going to forget so she'll be happy to know that I got this taken care of. Well, I tried anyways.

Franky came in from the garage at my neighborhood Sunoco and told me that I had failed my inspection. What? I've never failed anything in my life, how could this be? Well, it turns out that my front tires are about as bad as they get. They were worn down and had little traction. He told me I was one snowfall away from sliding right off the road. Um......does this ring any bells anyone? Yeah, I was slipping and sliding right off the road last year and when I asked my car dealer if there was anything wrong with my tires, they told me they were fine!!! What the hell were they trying to do, make sure I slammed into a guardrail? So, I ordered two new tires and then spent some time in the waiting room. Wait, should I really call this a waiting room? It was a chair that had some sort of blanket over it to cover up whatever pitiful state the actual chair was in. The ambiance was an ice cream freezer and a rack filled with foul looking "pastries" and a full wall of soda.

But it probably wouldn't surprise you to hear that I had some major entertainment in the form of the patrons who visited the Sunoco that fine afternoon. First we had a "little person" who I couldn't fully understand as she had a speech impediment which made it difficult for the guy behind the counter to provide the directions she was looking for. On her way out she asked me if I had any toothpaste. Wierd? Yes. Hysterical? Also yes. Then a guy named Omar came in and he seemed like a regular. He proceeded to buy $100 worth of scratch tickets. Every time he would win $10 he would buy another one of the same value. His theory, as he explained it to me, was that if he kept playing the same card he would win and he didn't want to leave the winning ticket behind. I asked him how long he had been playing these scratch tickets and he said "a long time". I said, have you ever won anything? He said he'd never won more than $20 at a time. After a long pause I couldn't help but put my manager hat on and I asked him if he thought he might want to try a different approach? He looked at me like I was nuts and I knew I had crossed the line so I shut up and read my book.

Then this guy came in who also seemed to be a regular, picked up a few scratch tickets and then sat in the back corner on a stool I hadn't seen before. Okay, then he fell asleep. I feel like he mentioned at some point that he didn't have to go to work until 3 and it was just before 2 at this point. People came and went, he slept. I read more of my book, he slept. Omar bought more tickets, he slept. I paid my bill and left and I'm not convinced he's still not there. So, if you care about me, please smack me upside the head if I ever end up being the girl who goes to Sunoco and takes a nap between shifts. I could think of nothing I would want to do less. I proceeded to get a bunch more errands done after my tires were installed and let me tell you something, these tires kick ass and it feels like a new car!!! So, all in all not a bad day and any day I can have some good people watching and a run in with a wackadoo, I'm a happy girl.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Please Remain Seated Until The Aircraft Has Come To A Complete Stop

As many of you know, I recently traveled the friendly skies as I went to Berlin and back a couple of weeks ago. It was an amazing trip and I had a wonderful time. That is if I forget the “delightful” people I had to deal with on the planes and all the airports I had to go through to get there. Here’s the thing, we all want to get on the plane and get settled in our seats but does getting to your seat 1 whole minute before me warrant being a complete turd and sacrificing your humanity? Honestly, the rudeness exhibited by my dear fellow passengers was truly astonishing. So, boarding was one thing, but it was the departure from the aircraft that really got my blood boiling. So, the plane lands, the lights go on and that friendly little ding sends the passengers into a frenzied motion of unclicking their seatbelts and lunging for the exit door. Nobody makes eye contact because if you do, you might feel compelled to show some manners. That’s right, they just keep their eyes looking forward as they rush past me, knocking me with their obnoxious carry on bags and leaving me to wait like a game of frogger to enter the rat race. And I give up. I simply sit down and wait it out because nothing is worth lowering myself to the point where I will knock into someone and stop the almighty surge of people while I grab my bag from the bin (exhibiting caution as my items ALWAYS shift during flight), give my seat an extra look to make sure I haven’t left my ipod behind, and leave when I am good and ready. This works out well most of the time, the only problem is when another person is sitting next to me and is like an Olympian runner at the starting line, waiting to sprint to the door. So, it’s really not the flying time, the boredom of a long flight, the cramped seats that wears me out when I travel, it’s the exhaustion I feel from the disappointment when I see fellow human beings forget for a second that they don’t get a prize just because they’re first out the door.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Blind Side

Okay, so you know how there are certain movies that just make you cry your eyes out? One of the ones that always does that to me is Hope Floats with Sandra Bullock. Well, I think she may have done it again with her new movie, The Blind Side. It's the true story of a high school student who went from homeless to the first round NFL draft pick in 2009 all because of a fiery mom who took him in as her own son. Every time I see the previews for this movie, I start crying. So, I kind of figure that this will be messier than an unexpected re-watch of Stepmom or Steel Magnolias. You know, those movies that you catch halfway through but you just can't walk away until you see the gut-wrenching ending? You know what's going to happen but you can't stop but put yourself through the pain all over again. Now, I think this movie ends up more inspirational than depressing but if the previews are any indication, pass the tissues because this is gonna get messy before it's over. What's your favorite tearjerker? My top three picks: Hope Floats, Stepmom, I Am Sam. Oh god, I'm getting misty-eyed just thinking about them, I have to go now......

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's In An Hour?

So, this weekend we gained an hour back in our lives and while we will lose it once again in the Spring, I am grateful for the time we have together now. I'm grateful for the extra hour I get to sleep. I'm grateful for one less hour's worth of guilt I feel for lazing about my house before I start to get to work picking it up. I'm grateful for that little bit of excitement I feel when I look at a clock that I haven't changed yet and I realize I have another hour more! I'm grateful for the exhilerating feeling of being "early" when I would have otherwise been an hour late. I'm grateful for this hour and I will savor it until it is ripped from my hands on that terrible Spring day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So, I went to the doctor today who informed me that I have a patellar subluxation which basically means my kneecap is in the wrong place which explains why I've been saying for the past few weeks, "hey, I think my kneecap is in the wrong place." so, I've got a knee brace and some new exercises to focus on with my trainer and I hope to straighten this out. The good news is that he remarked that my quads are really strong and he could tell I had been focusing on them in the gym. that's right Dr. Patel, my quads rule!!! It's a pretty frequent injury and is often fixed on it's own with ice, advil, strengthened leg muscles and avoiding painful activities. Worst case scenario, I might need surgery, but I'll take the next 3 months to do everything I can to avoid it. Lord knows, I don't need another surgerical notch on my belt.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Spooktacular Evening

So, on Friday night I had an interesting experience. I went to support some of my colleagues as they hosted a huge halloween event for the area au pairs. When I got there I was greeted warmly and when I asked what I could do to help, I was put right to work. They put me front and center at the check-in table where I helped to welcome over 300 people to this Halloween shindig. Was this a well thought out plan though? I think not. For the next two hours I sat there struggling to do my assigned task. Why you ask? Because I personally think that placing a hearing impaired person at the door of a big event with over 300 non-native english speaking people who tend to be a bit soft spoken and are wearing masks is not perhaps the most efficient way to get the party started! At a certain point I gave up and just threw the clipboard at people and said, find your own name. Ah, just another day in the life of yours truly. Honestly, weren't there some balloons I could have been blowing up or some chips and dip I could have put out?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This Is It

This afternoon I finally saw the Michael Jackson movie, This Is It. It's currently in limited release for 2 weeks and with my upcoming travel I figured it was now or never. I've always been a fan of Michael Jackson's music and videos, but never really had much of an opinion of him as a person. The thing is that after watching this movie, I don't care to weigh in on all the other stuff, but I do think that this movie gives you a rare glimpse at a true artist at work. The realization that he died before the much anticipated tour started was not far from my mind as I watched this film document the final rehearsals. The dancers, singers and musicians were all tearful as they talked about their good fortune to be a part of this production and they practiced each number with meticulous detail. They were overcome with emotion and not because they were interviewed after he died, these interviews were simply during the rehearsals. They were so excited because they felt that they had landed the opportunity of a lifetime. He was an absolute perfectionist and he had incredible vision, I can understand how in awe they must have been seeing him practice his craft in front of them. This was going to be an incredible concert, but I suppose now more people will see him perform than ever would have been able to attend one of the many sold out performances that were scheduled. I remember seeing an Oprah show recently where she said something that really resonated with me as I watched the film today. She said that watching his commitment and passion for his work makes you want to do the same in your own work. I agree with her.

There were people of all ages, races, and backgrounds watching the movie today and at the end of it, everyone broke out in applause. I know he made some strange choices during his life and I know that his untimely passing was partly his own fault. I also know that this man was a musical genius and he leaves behind quite a musical legacy. I, for one, was grateful to have had this opportunity to see a glimpse of him in his element.

To catch a glimpse of what I'm talking about, check out the trailer:

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Procrastinating Packer

For any of you who have been blessed with the privilege of living with me at any time, you know very well my ability to procrastinate packing for a work trip for as long as I can. I will leave the suitcase open and will think about what I need to pack for days on end, but it’s not really until the 11th hour that I pull it all together. I hate the process. I hate having to think out days in advance what I might need or what I’m going to wear to each day event and each evening event. It’s just too much for me to wrap my head around and I’m always afraid I’m going to forget something really important. I also have the fear that my luggage will be lost and I’ll be stuck in a country where only skinny people live and I’ll have to make a dress out of the drapes from the hotel or something. All these things and more run through my mind as I pack my suitcase. So, now as I prepare for my upcoming adventure to Berlin, I once again have my suitcase open in my bedroom and for the next few days I will have an uneasy feeling each time I walk by it as I figure out what the hell to pack.

Now, it doesn’t get any better when I come back. I still have some stuff in my suitcase from my recent trip to New Orleans. My trip to DC last week? Forget about it, the bag is still practically full. I have the amazing ability to keep a full suitcase untouched for weeks on end but the upside is that it feels like I went shopping when I finally open it back up and find all the clothes I forgot I had.

I also decided this year to be really vigilant about the gym so I have to pack a bag for that every day and I can’t really figure out if the pain of packing or the pain of exercising is more challenging for me.

Oh well, I can’t stop traveling and I can’t stop packing so I’m going to just have to figure out how to live with this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Sister Act Just For Me

So, something happened to me earlier this year and I haven't quite found the vehicle to truly share what it was and what it meant to me until now with my blog. This year marked my 10 year anniversary at my company. Now, I can't believe I'm old enough to be anywhere for 10 years, but this was the big one for me. In the midst of our company's national meeting there were countless details to keep track of, presentations to plan and deliver, people to get around, and just and endless list of things to do. Regardless of how "in touch" I thought I was with every detail of this meeting, there was one thing I didn't know and something very special that was kept until a surprise until the very end. During the final awards ceremony and really the end of our meeting, I was suddenly pulled onstage in front of hundreds of long time colleagues and friends and it was announced that it was my 10 year anniversary. I was touched and honored to be recognized and after a wave to the audience, I exited the stage. I was then mandhandled over to a seat in the audience and told to sit back and take it all in. Moments later, the lights dimmed, the music started, and a line of nuns walked in from the back of the theatre. After a second look, I noticed that most of these nuns were my friends from our management team. They took the stage along with some professional actresses and singers and proceeded to give me a live tribute through the songs of Sister Act. Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some Sister Act. Well, they rewrote the lyrics to several songs from this movie and delivered a performance I will never forget. I was simply in awe of so many things in that moment. I couldn't believe what they were willing to put themselves through, I couldn't believe that they had clearly found time to put so much work into this and I couldn't believe they pulled this all off without me knowing anything about it! I was laughing and crying and having the time of my life. Between numbers they gave me a Sister Act poster signed by all the people in attendance at our national meeting, something I will treasure forever. They brought it home with a rousing rendition of "We Will Follow Her" and I've never been so humbled and honored in my entire life. I went back to my hotel room and simply wept and called each of them to say thank you because I was blown away by the generosity and creativity of my friends and was touched so deeply by the gift they had given me. Thank you Dave, Susan, Sam, Annette, Katie and everyone who made that special moment possible and for giving me a gift I will never forget.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is My Car A Bad Luck Charm???

What a morning I had today. I pressed my snooze button just one extra time, knowing that I would still have enough time to get out the door by 8:15am and make it to work on time. However, little did I know what fate had in store for me this morning. And by "fate", I mean the Cambridge police and Pat's Towing Company. Yes, I miscalculated the street cleaning schedule last night and parked on the wrong side of the street. I looked out my front window and saw my car on a flatbed about to be carted away. As I ran outside to see what I had done so wrong to deserve this, I was informed it was street cleaning day and I was out of luck. However, they said I could pay them $90 right then and there and they would release my car instead of me having to go down to the tow yard to get it for $113. I said fine but I didn't have $90 on me so guess what kids? I hopped in the tow truck and he drove me to the local ATM with my car behind us. I gave him the money and PRESTO my car was given back to me. Now, the humility doesn't stop there. I had stand there and wait while passersby judged me and wondered "I wonder what she did" as they saw me with a wad of cash and wearing a bizarre combination of clothes that i threw on to get out to the truck to save my car!!! He released my car from the million hooks and chains keeping it to the flatbed and I returned home, embarassed, angry, and $90 less in my account. And then the best part is that I also have a $30 ticket to pay now. All I have to say is that my street better be sparkling when I get home tonight and I hope that the $120 I lost today will give me some points out there in the universe to avoid another annoying morning like this any time soon. I know this has nothing to do with my car, but it's just one more sign to me that it's time to make a change. If I had a new car, i would have parked it in my driveway and avoided this whole thing. I think this car is becoming a bit of bad luck for me, last winter it was spinout palooza and already this fall I've been pulled over for speeding (got out of that one though) and now ticketed and towed. Argh!!!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Working My Body, My Mind & My Mortgage

Well, today was another adventure for your dear author. After an exhausting weekend with the niece and nephew (is Caden not just adorable!?!?!), I returned to work but did my obligatory visit to the gym this morning before I got there. I am as committed as ever but my body is beginning to let me down. A couple of weeks ago it felt like my left kneecap had kind of moved to the wrong place, yuck! But after some icing and Advil it seemed to pop back in. Now my knee is acting up again and I can tell it's filled with fluid and couldn't be more uncomfortable. So, I'm trying to get some direction from my doctor and we'll see what we can do to fix this. The problem is that this comes just as I'm on a roll with my fitness routine! So, we're now focusing on exercises that don't aggravate my knee, but unfortunately, they are aggravating the rest of me. This morning during our session my trainer called my grunts and groans a "soundtrack" to our workout. I was working so hard and grunting my way through it that other people in the gym were wondering what medieval torture she was imposing on me. It doesn't look that hard, but it felt like hell. Basically one of the little gems she had me do was to lay down with both legs straight out. Then she slowly counts to ten while I lift one leg up at a time and then she even more slowly counts back down again to one as I lower it. Now, i can't touch the floor again, oh NO! Just as the foot is shaking it's way down to the floor, we lift ourselves back up again! Fun, fun, fun until that was done done done. Then, after my exhausting session where we did that a bunch of times and some other super fun exercises, I went to work. I forgot that over the weekend we had moved offices and so I walked into my new digs and had the unfortunate task of having to unpack nine massive crates of binders, paperwork, and all the shit I've accumulated over 10 years. So, then I decided tonight would be a good night to work out my brain after I had killed myself at the gym, thrown my back out unpacking, now I should work out my brain with some refinancing discussion with my mortgage guy. First of all, while I am hearing impaired and do appreciate a nice robust voice, my mortgage guy is so loud I'm surprised none of YOU heard him during our meeting. He said alot of big words, wrote down a bunch of numbers and now I think I'm closing in less than 20 days about 1.5% lower in my mortgage rate. So, today was exhausting but productive as I worked out my body, my mind, and my mortgage!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Maddie!

While I'm not a mommy yet, I feel like the arrival of my beautiful niece Maddie and now my handsome nephew Caden has introduced me to a whole new world just the same. It's amazing how these little beautiful munchkins can change your world in an instant. You don't have to be a parent to know that your life will never be the same again. I can still remember the first time I met little Maddie with her tiny little fingers and all wrapped up in her hospital blanket. I remember thinking she was so delicate and fragile and I immediately thought of all the things I couldn't wait to show her. I dreamed of taking her to her first broadway show and playing dress up together and I just couldn't wait to hear what she would have to say. Now, three years later she's talking up a storm and has so much personality. I look back now in her baby pictures and can see that beautiful little face as it plumped up over time, those eyes get more and more blue, and that hair that grown women would pay thousands of dollars to even come close to is growing faster than her mommy can cut it. She has grown up so much in the past 3 years and now she's a big sister. She has so much to teach her baby brother. She's a heck of a swimmer, not a bad singer (we'll work on her American Idol audition piece eventually), and she's a precious little angel to me. Happy Birthday Maddie, Auntie Nat loves you so much!

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's "Chunking" Outside

So, yesterday I was hanging out with my friend and her adorable twins (to the left is my FAVORITE photo of one of the twins, Ned) and I looked outside and I didn't see rain, I didn't see sleet, I saw chunks. That's right, it was chunking outside. Now, I have to put it this way because it's the only way I can adequately describe what was happening. Big chunks of wet, snowy, crap were falling down everywhere and accumulating. My little buddy Ned and I laid on the floor watching the chunks come down on the skylight and he was mesmerized. I started to think the kids of MA might have a snow day given the lack of preparation of the great state of Massachusetts this early in the season. I carefully drove home last night so as to avoid the infamous spinouts I experienced last winter and made it safely. By the time I left my house this morning, the chunks had melted, the sun was shining and it was a brisk fall day. Which leaves me asking one question, what the hell is going on here? I thought global warming was taking effect, not global chunking! I thought it was supposed to be fall, not winter! I think that the buyers at TJ Maxx and HomeGoods have gotten together with Mother Nature in a conspiracy to speed up the holiday decoration season!!! I am not ready to shovel, I am not ready to pay a high heating bill, I am protesting the winter season starting already, who's with me!?!? And for all of my friends south of D.C., don't you even dare weigh in and tell me how "chilly" it feels now that your weather is in the 60s. Cry me a river!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No matter where you go, there you are

A lot of people tell me that they are envious of all the travel that I do as part of my job. I get that, it sounds exciting, but the reality is that even though I’ve been to some amazing places, most of the time I get to see the inside of the hotel more than I get to see the sites. This trip to New Orleans is certainly no exception. So, I end up making my own fun. Like, for instance on Sunday evening I went to dinner with my very fun, very fabulous and very gay boss (this will be relevant in just one moment). We went to The Gumbo Shop, a lovely establishment right off of Chartres street in the French Quarter. I drank my first Hurricane and let me tell you something, that drink packs a major punch!!! Well, after a second one, he and I begin singing show tunes. We were in Act II of Avenue Q when a bunch of people sat down in the table next to us. One of the women heard us singing and leaned over and said “Y’all, is he serenading you?” Before I could say anything, my boss says “well, yes. I just proposed.” Well, that’s all it took for the table to erupt with excitement, applause, and high fives all around. Then she announced to the entire restaurant, “Y’all, they just got engaged!!!” Now, the best part is that my boss is gay and we were SINGING SHOWTUNES and not Endless Love when we announced our commitment to each other. Well, then he takes a ring from my right hand and places it upon my left to make it official, tells everyone that we need to go back to the hotel to “celebrate” and off we went. I was both mortified and laughing hysterically all at the same time. As we stumbled home I thought, “so this is that magical feeling when you get engaged.” Just another day at work…

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nobody "Nose" I Snore

Okay, so sometimes I wake up in the morning and my throat is a bit scratchy and my nose is a little sore and I figure it’s just allergies. That is until I go on a trip like I am on at the moment and look over the other side of the room to see my roommate with a pillow over her head in the middle of the night. Now, she claims it’s because she was “cold” but I know the truth…the ugly truth…the painful truth…that I snore. I do it loudly and not so proudly. What’s worse is that I then spend the rest of the night tossing and turning because I don’t want to disturb my friend.

Now, I live alone so really the only one I might bother is my cat, but let’s be honest, based on my earlier post, she can handle a little discomfort herself now and then. And of course when I travel with my friends no one is really volunteering to be my roommate unless they come equipped with a noise machine, earplugs, and a lot of patience.

One day I’m hoping this will go away, but for now, I’m just hoping that my good friends will keep my little secret so no one else “nose.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sleep In Heavenly Peace......Yeah Right!!!

Okay, so yesterday I told you all about my newest torture and now I’d like to share with you a little torture that’s been going on in my bedroom. Now, before you think I’m getting naughty, let me assure you that there’s less action happening in that room than a convent in the Vatican City. There are two things I’m battling lately, the first is insomnia and the other is my cat.

Let’s begin with the insomnia situation. Now, I can’t say I have a real “diagnosis” or anything, but I have decided that I have a disorder that I will now call Restless Sleepatitis. Sure, you won’t be able to find it on WebMD, but I’m pretty sure that the NIH is only days away from coming out with news about this condition. So, what happens is that I go through my day and have the normal 3pm tired spell but I recover and make it through the rest of the evening. At around 10pm I get so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, but I struggle against it because there is more entertainment to find on tv and I’m not willing to let myself go to the land of sleep just yet. Occasionally I succumb to the sleep and I don’t wake up the next morning refreshed and ready to go, I wake up 4 hours later wide awake and unable to fall back asleep until just about one hour before my alarm goes off which is a big slice of awesome pie. Now, when I win the battle of the 10pm drowsiness I can’t fall asleep until after midnight and then I’m restless until my alarm goes off at 7am. Now, the only solution I’ve found that works is having a few glasses of wine, but I hardly think my trainer or my liver would appreciate this as a method for better sleep every night.

So, in addition to my sleep challenges, I have another obstacle I face each night, the damned cat. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love that little bugger more than I can say, but must she find the one spot on my bed to sleep each night that I want to put my feet? Must I live in fear that she will decide to play the “pounce” game when I move my feet under the covers and attack me? Does she have to see a shadow of something in the middle of the night and go on a rampage to find the mystery dust ball or whatever it is and freak me the hell out? I mean I guess she gets her kicks when and where she can, but I fear that I may have to kick her out of the bedroom soon unless she gets her act together. She’s so damned cute that I guess I let her get away with it, but the bags under my eyes are getting so big I have to check them when I go to the airport and enough is enough!

Can anyone help me with my struggle to get a good night’s sleep? Send me your advice, recipes for sleep, or drug recommendations, I’m all ears and I’ve got plenty of time to read through your ideas tonight……………

Monday, September 28, 2009

A New Day, A New Torture

I’ve been toying around with the idea of starting a blog and just hadn’t put it together yet, but today I had an experience that was blog-worthy and I decided that there was no time like the present to launch my own site. I hope you enjoy! To start, I’ll introduce you to my new world as I launch a journey towards fitness.

For those of you less familiar with my journey, it started back at the end of May when I decided that it was time to stop being polite and time to start getting real about getting myself healthy. A friend of mine introduced me to a gym in town that was all centered around personal training. She had great results after having her baby so I figured that while I still weighed more than she did at her 9 month pregnancy mark, I should give it a shot.

And so the pain began. I started with my first session where I both almost lost my lunch and cried. It was my “introductory” session to get a sense of how things work and after seeing what horrible shape I was in, I immediately signed up for 8 weeks of sessions. I was introduced to my trainer, a 5’2” woman from Ecuador who was ranked # 8 for soccer when she played PROFESSIONALLY for her National team. Yeah, 5’9” and all kinds of pounds of me meets 5’2” Gabby who is solid muscle and a wee bit scary. But somehow, some way, we kind of clicked and now I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. We’ve struck an interesting balance where she pushes me but is careful of my limits and I give her great advice on how to handle her tumultuous relationship with her girlfriend in Colombia. The other day she wasn’t listening to my advice and I pointed out that I was in fact wearing a Dr. Phil t-shirt and I knew what I was talking about. Incidentally, this morning she thanked me because they made up after their most recent argument based on my input. Go me!!! I’ve always dreamed of helping lesbians work out their relationship problems, what a gift I have.

Okay, so every 5-6 weeks, Gabby changes up my routine. Now, I often catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and chuckle as I realize the crazy stuff she has me doing. Fat people are not supposed to do the things she makes me do, but I guess that’s the point. But honestly, sometimes it is just ridiculous. For instance, when she demonstrates an exercise and it involves jumping, it always takes me a second longer to execute because when I jump, the world seems to move with me. Last week she had me jumping off a step and I almost knocked myself out with “my girls”. Today I was lifting some dumbbells and was instantly reminded that I need to keep coming to my workouts because I have the buff arms of an atrophied elephant.

So, today we were due for a routine change. Just so you have a window into my world, here you go:

q 30 reps of a lovely squat/row combination that makes my legs burn, my forehead sweat and my body ache for it to end as quickly as possible
q Then we go to the floor for 30 crunches where I hold a large exercise ball between my legs and pull it up to my chest. Again, dying is often preferable when getting to the last 10 of these when the burning sensation hits 5 alarms.
q Then up again where we, and by “we” I mean I, do 30 reps of pulling a dumbbell up with one hand and down again and then switching sides. She’s hysterical when she tells me to exhale as I lift the weight. If I’m not careful, I’ll take out my own nose.
q Then we round it all off with “wood chops”. Now, Helen is probably familiar with these as is Paul Bunyan, but I have not had the pleasure of this little exercise in my city-living life. In this little ditty, I grab the handle and pull up from the floor, across my chest and towards the opposite wall. To keep it funky fresh, Gabby has me do this really quickly so it’s a cardio exercise/strength training combo, two for the price of one, I’m so lucky…

After doing this once I’m pretty tired, but I get to do it 3, that’s right 3 times before I’m done. And then the stretching begins.

The stretching is both my favorite and least favorite part of the work out. It’s my favorite because it means the heavy lifting is done, but it’s my least favorite because she has me lay down for part of it and pulls my legs up. Now, for both the ladies and the gents out there, once you’ve done this once in a pair of loose-fitting shorts, you’ll think twice every time you choose your underwear before a workout. While she may have enjoyed the purple flower pattern I was so proudly displaying to her, I wanted to die!

But the beat goes one, the pounds keep melting off and I feel stronger and stronger. But one thing is for sure, I cannot take myself too seriously with all of this because it turns out that this shit is just too funny. So, welcome to my world. I hope you enjoy it and I hope I can make you laugh every now and again.